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Success is finding your authentic self

Meet Dean. Transformation success story #3 in my series titled, “Success. It’s personal. And that’s a good thing.”

Dean Packingham

Dean Packingham (upper right) participating in his first competitive race, 2012.

Have you ever had a situation in your life where you felt like the timing was perfect…meant to be? That’s how I felt when Dean Packingham reached out to me via this blog.

He told me that I had inspired him and that he was about to embark on his own personal transformation journey. He admitted being afraid, fearing failure, but also expressed hope and determination. What struck me about Dean was that he had the courage to leap and go after something he desperately wanted, despite his fear. He asked for help. And that was the beginning of his success story.

We corresponded that night for quite awhile. My response was: “Dean, we’ve totally got this! There is no question that you can do it.” This was the same response that my mentor, O’Neal Hampton, gave me. A message of hope that arrived just when I was ready to receive it. Then, I was able to pay it forward by helping Dean.

What’s cool about this pay it forward story, is that last month, I hooked Dean up with a delightful young lady who also asked for help. She admitted she was terrified to take the leap, and that she was not in the equation of her life. And, guess what Dean said to her about two years after he reached out to me? Yep. He said, “We’ve totally got this!”

t5338_1__13536_1312922128_600_600If I had to pick one word to describe Dean Packingham it would be — authentic. In this process, Dean has uncovered his true self one layer at a time. He admits that for the first time in a long time — perhaps ever — he is living as his authentic self and making new discoveries every day.

Dean is on a mission, and is an example of what I call “living the journey toward wholeness.” A journey that is profoundly personal and requires internal and external transformation that is not even close to easy. Most often, it isn’t about the weight, but rather how we feel about ourselves. Success on the journey of wholeness comes when you make a commitment to yourself, go 100% all in, and are willing to face the internal challenges as well as the diet and exercise components. And, when you recognize you are not perfect, but love yourself anyway.

I am thrilled to introduce you to the next success story in our series. Meet the true, authentic Dean Packingham — success story #3.

Q. (Lori) How do you define your goal, today?

A. (Dean) Well, when I first started this journey, back in 2012, I was FULL ON, nothing going to stop me mode. Unfortunately, I had a few traumatic setbacks that I allowed to derail me. I had lost close to 60 pounds, and had ABS for the first time in my life! Today, I’ve gained about half of that weight back, but I’ve learned so much during the setbacks that I no longer look at it as failure. I am now on a whole life journey to health and wellness, and even though that may take a while longer, I believe it’s going to work for me in the end.

Q. (Lori) What does success toward that goal look like to you?

A. (Dean) Success to me is being able to fully move past traumatic events without using food as my coping mechanism. I’ve basically used food as comfort and a coping mechanism my whole life. So to find other coping mechanisms would be total success for me. I’m working on it, but life-long patterns take time to change, and that’s okay.  I’m a work in progress, and the key word is PROGRESS.

Q. (Lori) What are some of the ways of the ways you’ve been successful?

A. (Dean) A big one has been to try to come to terms with WHY I am en emotional eater. I know now that anyone can lose weight. The hard thing is keeping it off, and changing and loving your whole self. When I lost the weight, I realized I STILL did not love myself, despite people telling me I looked amazing. I’m working so hard to love myself for the first time in my life but it does take time.

Q. (Lori) Do you consider yourself successful?

A. (Dean) I have come so far in this journey. Learning to love yourself sounds easy, but for emotional eaters like myself, with low self esteem, it’s easier said than done. In that regard, I am successful. I remember a time when I couldn’t make it through a DAY eating properly, and I would then beat myself up at the end of the day and give up. I know now that when I have those days it’s “just a day”. Each new day starts fresh, and that’s a wonderful feeling! It really is great to be able to largely move past those moments and just focus. When you (Lori) say to “keep yourself in the equation”, it is absolutely what we must do. I allowed myself to be thrown out of the equation. Time for working on myself needs to be non-negotiable and a priority.

Q. (Lori) Are you able to recognize and celebrate your own success(es)?

A. (Dean) For the first time in four years, I’m now off my anxiety/depression medicine. It has been a hard two months, but I would count this as one of my greatest successes. When I made it one month without the meds, I smiled and just about jumped for joy. When I become anxious or depressed, I try to channel my energy elsewhere, like hitting my treadmill or going for a walk. I remove myself from the environment or occasion that is causing me an issue and refocus.

Q. (Lori) What are you most proud of?

A. (Dean) I am most proud of dumping my anxiety/depression medicine, and for those moments when I can finally say I’m starting to love myself. If you learn to love yourself, you’ll want to take care of yourself. If you don’t like yourself, there’s not much motivation to be kind to yourself.

Q. (Lori) If you could share a tip with others related to success, what would it be?

A. (Dean) Take time. Plot out your strategy, and live by it. If you screw up, get over it and move on. Don’t let others sabotage or derail you — their opinion is just that – an opinion. This is your life and your body.

Thank you Dean for reaching out to me to ask for help. For being courageous enough to tackle the internal transformation as well as the external one and continue on your path toward wholeness. It’s been fun to watch you change and grow, and your authenticity is now inspiring others. I hope you all will join me in congratulating Dean on sharing his very personal story here as a success story and for recognizing his accomplishments to date. Yay Dean!

Read my original blog kicking off the success series: Success. It’s personal. And that’s a good thing.

Other related blogs:

Two years fit and healthy. New life…new lessons

Three years, another cool milestone

How I got this body. Climbing high and losing weight (Star Tribune)

Lori Schaefer, Before & After

Other success stories in this series:

Kendra: Success is being a warrior. Not quitting no matter what

Kathy: Success is being good to yourself

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